Harpoon Brewery Tasting: Drink Up, and Welcome to Boston

Yes, the main reason I went to Boston was to be with my fraternity. But, when in Rome, right?

Harpoon Me.

Harpoon Me.

While I didn’t get a chance to visit Sam Adams or Night Shift, I did manage to worm my way over to Harpoon Brewery for their legendary 2pm tasting. Basically, folks show up to the bar, they describe the beers and, for one hour, carte blanche to drink all you can drink care to drink. And, with so many options, it was hard to resist….

Taps a Plenty!

Taps a Plenty!

Ciders, Rye IPAs, UFOs… Oh baby.

Highlights for me?

Chin chin!

Don’t mind the lack of makeup. This was the first thing I did after a 7 hour bus ride.

100 Barrel #44 El Triunfo Coffee Porter – I can’t get enough of coffee porters lately.

Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA – Wow. Never expected to like this. What a great surprise.

Chocolate Stout (Though I can’t imagine drinking more than a little bit of that sweet stuff!)

Their Bourbon Barrel Aged Fig Porter was a little bit less flavorful than I expected, but I loved the concept. Maybe they’ll give it another try sometime.

Hmmm, better luck next time.

Hmmm, better luck next time.

Even more of a treat? Hanging with not one but TWO of my buddies from UNC!! Fiona (the tiny one on the right) was my roomie all weekend and Patty (the tinier one on the left) JUST SO HAPPENED to be visiting Boston for the weekend. Fancy meeting y’all here!

BUDDY SYSTEM!!

BUDDY SYSTEM!!

And, once we got a little silly off of tasty brews, the most essential part of the day happened. My ONLY real meal of the day, from the most-delicious Yankee Lobster for an infamous Lobster Roll.

I could eat seven of these. Easy peasy.

I could eat seven of these. Easy peasy.

The verdict?

Such a harsh judge

Such a harsh judge

Couldn’t get enough. The fries were crisp and well seasoned, but the lobster roll…. So meaty, still light (not too heavy on the mayo/sauce, which I can support), and the side of coleslaw was top notch.

If these lobster rolls weren’t a little steep in price (read: $18), I think I would’ve ONLY eaten them all weekend.

Alas, we had to get back to Cambridge and start partying….. Free tasting, insane lobster roll, cocktail parties…. tough life, right?

If you’re in Bean Town on a weekday, get thee to a tasting (2pm or 4pm). AND, if you’re there on a weekend, check out one of the tours! I didn’t have a chance to check it out, but I’ve heard only good things.

Also, if you’re trying to have a lobster roll party, please don’t hesitate to invite me.

 

 

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Ok, Ok…. I get it.

(I recognize that the issue of gun control is one wrought with drama and debate, death and amendments, and all sorts of things. And this is not a post on any of those. This is just a personal experience on an event for work that opened my mind a bit.)

Before today, I didn’t understand. What was the appeal?

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They’re loud. They’re dangerous. They’re often scary, whether in the news or fictional media. And, admittedly, I’m not too worried that the zombie apocalypse in on the way (though I do get silly excited for new episodes of The Walking Dead).  But I guess there’s a time and place for everything, right?

And, since I lived in North Carolina for 7 years without ever touching one, I was mocked at the range. Well, not gonna deal with that again.

Blue dude never saw it coming

Blue dude never saw it coming

And, after a bit of practice with the handguns, it only felt right to jump to the heavy hitter.

Pew pew

Pew pew

Annie, you’d better watch out. Jordy got her hand on some guns…. and I think I’m still glowing from the rush.

Fact: I’m a terrible shot (especially with the bonus of not remembering to pack my glasses).

Fact: I don’t think I’ve felt that adrenaline since skydiving in 2010. And, before that, getting a tattoo in 2007.

Fact: I’d do it again in a heartbeat (actually, I’d do all of those again. Shooting, skydiving, being tattooed.)

I think I got him.

I think I got him.

I don’t think I’ll be signing up for the NRA any time soon, and I won’t be rushing out to hit the range next week. But I guess I get it.

Try anything new this weekend?

God Save the Delta Psi

Sometimes, as I am squashed against a cold window or, heaven forbid, forced to endure the aisle seat on a long Megabus trip, I reflect back on Sierra’s Emirates journey and can’t help but chuckle (Chuckling is the one where you weep quietly, right?) But this Monday night/Tuesday morning’s journey, as I curled up against a pile of outerwear acting as a pillow, sweating in the mysteriously warm cocoon of steel and patterned interior (more like Muggy-bus, am I right?), I was instead only able to smile widely, reflecting on the past weekend in Boston surrounded by those magical friends that have become my family.

I arrived early Friday morning (like obscenely early) and loitered around Boston’s illustrious South Station, not ready to show up to my Airbnb listing QUITE at the crack of dawn. However, after reading about 78 Shades of Grey, I was ready to brave the cold (and public transportation) to head into Somerville. Being the wheeler and dealer that I am, I booked a place about a mile from the main hotel where most of my brethren were staying for a fraction of the cost (that fraction being 1/3). And Airbnb KILLED IT!

Note my adorable new luggage AND pile of clothes!

Note my adorable new luggage AND pile of clothes!

The bed was warm, and since the person staying before me checked out early, I was able to nap for a few hours before shenanigans began.

I hit up Harpoon Brewery for a little visit/tasting, but I think I’ll do a separate post on that. Friday night was a whirlwind of too many cocktails and not enough photos, but I was so busy reuniting with old friends, the camera was the last thing on my mind. Luckily, especially considering how little I ate on Friday, Saturday started off with a delicious catered lunch.

Quite the spread

Quite the spread

Alas, the “barley salad” was actually a cleverly disguised olive salad (blech, olives are actually the very worst), but the sandwiches were delicious and I gobbled them up like the starving grad student that I am. And, after hours of meetings and paperwork and oodles of fraternizing (HA, get it?! Because we’re in a frat) it was time for the main event (or at least a main event).  Cocktails!!

We dolled up. And, because I firmly believe that my frat only pledges ridiculously good looking people, it was great to ogle the eye candy (as incest-y as that sounds).

Lesson of the night: don't wear a white dress if there's sangria around

Lesson of the night: don’t wear a white dress if there’s sangria around

MIT kids: brains AND beauty? Doesn't seem fair...

MIT kids: brains AND beauty? Doesn’t seem fair…

After plenty of schmoozing, the real fun began. If you’re any type of a frat star, you know that the night hasn’t officially begun until fraternity songs are playing on the piano and being screamed by your family.

If you’re not, trust me on this one.

The very best people

The very best.

There’s something about hearing the tunes that I sang all throughout my collegiate career being “sang” (being a bit generous with the term, here) by men and women from across the country (or, in the cases of many Taus, from around the world). Our drunken harmonizing might not get us a trip to Hollywood a la American Idol, but it’s the sweetest sound in the world to my ears. We, as a group, love to sing (and sometimes make the rafters ring), and it’s never more obvious than when hundreds of us are in the same house.

The next day was a little easier to wake up from (more foods + less drinks = better sleep all around) and, after a casual stroll through Cambridge (by casual, I mean nearly frostbitten), I arrived for the most visually appealing lunch setting I could imagine.

Hello, Bean Town.

Hello, Bean Town.

Much less olives in this lunch made for a more satisfying meal (and the fact that I grabbed about three pieces of foccacia and a wedge of butter, I think that helped, too.)

Cue more meetings, a quick jaunt back over to Somerville, some dolling up, and we’re back!

That's ME!

That’s ME!

We enjoyed salmon, a wild rice blend, and a DELICIOUS broccoli rabe, which ended up more in peoples’ teeth than in their stomachs.

Then, inevitably, more schmoozing.

I clean up fairly nicely, eh?

I clean up fairly nicely, eh?

Disregard the flower in the hair, a last minute addition from the centerpiece (everyone was doing it). My particular choice of sandals was PERFECT for the dancing around as they possessed little to no traction whatsoever.

Translation? I was like an ice skater whirling around the dance floor.

I’ll admit, there was an interesting vibe at dinner I couldn’t quite put my finger on…. it was like everyone was not sure what was going to come next and, eventually, they learned the answer: nothing. Nothing was coming next, at least not in that banquet hall.

Luckily, the after-party was in full swing back at the fraternity house.

Just like Cheers.

Just like Cheers.

I’ll admit, the time back at the house felt a LOT like my sophomore year of college. They ran out of most of the booze, resulting in a number off odd mixers and liquors left. Everyone was whirling around the house like lunatics, with that desperation that could only come from the final night of a wonderful weekend.

Who haven’t we talked to?

Who haven’t we hugged?

When can I next get up to visit?

Will we EVER SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN?

You know, the usual. And, as 4:30 am rolled around, most people were still there. They were still hugging, and talking, and praying the morning would never come.

Unfortunately, since fraternity thoughts along don’t stop the earth’s rotation, the morning did come. And so did the goodbyes, and the final hugs, and the promises to visit, as they do every year. Luckily, since I’ve migrated to the Northeast, the ability to visit a few other chapters is actually semi-realistic. Although, let’s be honest, my heart is still down in Chapel Hill. And, since we’re still being honest, that’s the first place on my itinerary of places to visit. It’s not just because they’re far enough south that the promise of warmer temperatures.

Delta Psi means forever.

Delta Psi means forever.

It probably has more to do with the fact that, when I’m there, my heart glows enough to light the dance floor when we’re up until 4:30am shaking it.

God save the Delta Psi, my sisters and brothers from other mothers.

One Last Chicago Post

I promise.

I feel like I’ve been dragging this out forever, but mostly it’s because I’ve been swamped with welcome-back-to-school hullabaloo (which included 45 minutes of class in which the professor never showed up. WELCOME BACK, am I right?!)

Since there was a Chicago Food post and a Chicago Beer post, I figured this one could pick up all the leftover bits and pieces. So, sorry if it’s long. But there are some pretty pictures!

Sweat. I know I’ve been less focused on this in my blog, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten it in my life. And, since no trip would be complete without breaking a bit of a sweat (whether in the gym or on the dance floor), my buddy Caitlin and I hit up a Werq dance fitness class. I didn’t take any pictures of the class, but I can describe it as a super-hyped Zumba without a focus on any type of Latino music really. It’s some of the most current music I’ve ever had in a fitness class, and in addition to knowing all the words to all the songs, I couldn’t stop shaking it the entire time. Great moves, high energy, if you’re into that kinda thing (and you find a class near you, I found that they might not have trickled heavily over to the East coast yet), I’d totally suggest you hit it up.

For the Vegans, look no further than Native Foods.  With locations in Boulder, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, and Chicago, this vegan sensation makes some fantastic dishes that make you say “Lacto-Ovo WHO?! Meat WHAT?”

Fountain Drinks!

Fountain Drinks!

Instead of soda, they offer these tasty fountain options. Katie preferred her tea-lavender-lemonade combo with a bit of slapped mint.

Gotta slap it for flavor.

Gotta slap it for flavor.

In addition to the INCREDIBLE sweet potato fries that I split with Katie, I went with the Ensalada Azteca.

Si, Papi.

Si, Papi.

Fresh avocado, cucumber, and jicama salsa with romaine, currants, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cilantro atop quinoa and served with Mango-Lime vinaigrette. So good. So, so good.

We later hit up Piece Brewery and Pizzeria for a little bit of the two things they do best.

Ben, going in for the kill.

Ben, going in for the kill.

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Cheers!

We went with Plain: traditional New Haven pizza, a generous amount of red sauce topped with garlic, extra parmesan, and EVOO. This mozzarella-less pizza was fresh to death, and the two of us demolished it. Katie went with something a little different.  White with CLAMS! I tried a bite, but it was not my cup of tea. Or my shell of clam.

Served with lemon wedges! She said it tasted like Clam linguini.

Served with lemon wedges! She said it tasted like Clam linguini.

The beers from Piece were solid, not great.

After Piece, we moved onto my favorite part of the night. Emporium Arcade Bar. Two words.

X-Men (that’s one word, right?) Pinball.

Pinball Wizard

Pinball Wizard

I basically love this concept, and will be hastening to Philly’s own barcade stat to enjoy beer and arcade games STAT.

Three Aces was how we spent Saturday brunch. Burger and Soup to keep us warm. But not just any burger.

Come to me!

Come to me!

I present the Ace Burger: aged cheddar, trimmings, bacon jam, aioli, fries, garlic and hops pickle (which we mostly avoided). The fries were incredible, the burger…. NEXT LEVEL. PRETZEL ROLL, PEOPLE!

And, though I enjoyed the HELL out of some sushi from Coast on Friday night with my buddies Caitlin and Sierra, the lighting was not amenable to blog pics.

Just enjoy this tipsy pic of us all, and know that Chicago is a glorious place to be, whether you’re eating, drinking, dancing your face off, or visiting lady (or gentlemen) friends!

I surround myself with total babes all the time.

I surround myself with total babes all the time.

Next stop: Boston. My bus leaves on Thursday night, I’ve gotta whip up an itinerary!!

Any recommendations?

Tasting Chicago

True Life: Of the past 44 hours, 18 have been spent Living Socially. My job is the most fun.  But now that I’m home, cozied up in sweats and slippers, I am fully ready to live anti-socially for a bit. And what’s more anti-social than blogging about myself?

Don’t answer that.

When we last me, I regaled you with tales of my trip to Chicago but, more specifically, to the Goose Island Brewpub. And, don’t get me wrong, that was delicious. But, let’s be honest, no trip to Chi-town would be complete without a solid amount of edible adventures, in addition to the boozier ones. And thus, with empty bellies and a full itinerary, my buddy, Katie, and I hit the ground running in hopes to eat our way through some Chicago specialities on our very own self-guided food tour of Wicker Park and the Loop.

First up: The Bristol for some brunch…

We have arrived.

We have arrived.

Or really, for some duck fat fries.

A bright start to the day

A bright start to the day

Katie, a fanatic for all things duck fat (or really, duck-related), has been eyeing these puppies for a bit. And, when the opportunity to dip crispy fries into mayo-disguised-as-aioli, who am I to say no?

For $5, this portion was generous, and came served with a side of housemade ketchup (which was a little thick for my liking) and tossed with herbs (which were right up my alley). But, honestly, these were the type of fries that would’ve been a-okay even without dipping sauce, the kind that have you licking your fingers and contemplating licking the plate clean of any niblets.

I couldn’t resist the Moscow Mule on the menu, so I guess this day wasn’t entirely booze free.

That's so Jordan.

That’s so Jordan.

This Mule was made with American Harvest Vodka, fresh lime juice, and Barritt’s Ginger Beer, and served in what looked like an adorable tin or copper mug, this cocktail was refreshing, light, and chock-full of ginger taste. I’m into that. I’m real into that.

Our tongues coated in salt and savory taters, we decided our next stop should be something sweet. And what’s sweeter than hot chocolate on a freezing cold day?

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate might be my favorite concept for a brunch ever. Many tables were loaded with mimosas and bellinis and, I’ll admit, it was tough not to blow my load and eat everything on the menu. But I only had eyes for their hot chocolate. Each mug is served with a house-made marshmallow. And I went for the Mexican hot chocolate.

2/3 dark chocolate, 1/3 milk chocolate, fresh cinnamon and cayenne?

Please and thank you.

Please and thank you.

Spicy and sweet is one of my favorite flavor combinations, and this had the bonus of being creamy and piping hot. The marshmallow was a total game changer, and tasted phenomenal even without the hot chocolate (but definitely better with it…)

Katie went for something even more indulgent. The Black & Tan is 1/3 hot fudge and 2/3 medium hot chocolate.

I know, right?

Yes.

Yes.

I tasted a sip or two, and felt as though it was meant to be poured over ice cream. That, or directly into my gullet.

We took a little breather over at Casa de Sierra, author of Posh Meets Pavement AND former classmate from UNC , and I irresponsibly didn’t take any pictures. But check her out, she’s living locally in Chicago and, in her free time, travels the world and runs half-marathons. Crazy person.

Four hours later (ish. Felt like no time at all, the beauty of bonding with college friends), we were ready to revisit the world of treats. And, as I’d Yelped my way through the entirety of Chicago earlier (maybe a little less, but that’s what it felt like), I knew where we were headed next.

Magnolia Bakery for their infamous banana pudding. Katie went for a B&W cupcake.

I won this game.

I won this game.

Full disclosure: The cupcake was meh. Nothing to write home about, in my humble opinion, but that didn’t bother me. I’ll tell you why.

This banana pudding was about as life-changing as I think banana pudding can be. I feel like, despite having many experiences with banana pudding before, I have never truly tasted it before this banana pudding.

You might think I’m exaggerating.

I am not.

This is the banana pudding by which all future banana puddings will be judged. The bar has been set, banana pudding. I’m calling you out, and you must be pillowy, flavorful, full of bananas, fluffy, and also made with love.

That’s all.

Road pudding

Road pudding

And, I know it was a little out of order, all that dessert before dinner, but that’s the reason we became grown-ups, right?

We knew what we needed to eat for dinner. It was meaty, it was cheesy, and, of course, held in a deep dish.

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Pizano’s Pizza was, quite simply, the closest spot with solid deep dish pizza reviews. But we were SO pleased.

The crust tasted almost like a savory pie dough. The sauce was super-flavorful. But I think my FAVORITE part was the cheese. It was like…. cartoon cheese.

Let me elaborate. You know in cartoons you watched as a kid (or yesterday), when they’d order a giant cheesy pizza and, when the characters grabbed a slice, the cheese would go on forever?

Cheese me.

Cheese me.

It was that kind of cheese. And it was PERFECT.

After we waddled our way back to Katie’s home and sat back in full-belly bliss, I appreciated Chicago cuisine utterly and completely.

And then, I shamelessly grabbed another spoonful of banana pudding.

Chicago, you did me dirty. I loved every bite, and I can’t wait to come back.

What cartoon food would you LOVE to taste in real life?

Ever had a dessert that rocked your world quite like that banana pudding?

Duck… Duck…. GOOSE! (Island Clybourn Tour/Tasting)

This trip to Chicago focused on a few key points:

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Seeing friends, with whom to eat and drink

That was really it. We didn’t visit the Bean. I didn’t demand a walk along the shore of Lake Michigan, and I didn’t want to see any improv comedy troupes. I wanted to eat and drink my way through the city.  And, luckily, my friends came through. Big time.

All the Geese.

All the Geese.

For half my trip, I stayed with my buddy that I’ve known approximately forever: Caitlin. The most seasoned of my Chi-town buddies, she’s been living in the Windy City for over a year now, and hadn’t visited Goose Island’s Clybourn Brewpub yet. That obviously had to be remedied.

Dirty bird.

Dirty bird.

On Saturday, Caitlin, her husband, and I bundled up and head over for a “tour” and a guided tasting. I toss the “tour” in quotations because, much like the Brooklyn Brewery “tour”, it was mostly an opportunity to stand inside of a room in which pieces of the brewing process go down but, since it’s a small area, there’s not an actual tour, more of a lecture from someone knowledgeable. In our case, it was Brad Dessy, former member of the DePaul Men’s a Cappella and generally handsome bearded brew dude.

Glowing with pride (and also probably because I'm still not that great at using my camera.)

Glowing with pride (and also probably because I’m still not that great at using my camera.)

After a mini crash course in how beer’s made (because, as he admitted, people who don’t brew don’t care, and those who do brew already know how it’s made), Brad touched on what made this Chicago Island beer so great.

  • They use water STRAIGHT from Lake Michigan, 5 gallons of water for every one gallon of beer.
  • Goose Island is Chicago’s oldest functioning brewery
  • Goose Island’s head brewers intended to bring British styles of beer to Chicago, modeling off of post-Prohibition-style beers.
  • They produce enough beer to make one new beer a week, debuting on Thursdays (in case you’re in town.)
  • Goose Island’s brew pubs were not included in the acquisition of Goose Island by AB In Bev, so they continue to hold tight to the “craft beer” status. Sweet.
  • Goose Island is very proud of their work with cask ale. We didn’t try any of this, so I can’t speak to the quality, but Brad seemed stoked about it, and if you can’t trust a male a cappella singer who brews beer, who CAN you trust?
  • In the summer, they work with local farmers from the Farmers’ Market to create all sorts of crazy collaboration beers, mixing peaches, honey, spices, truffles, hot peppers, and peas into beer.  Noted, I’ll have to head back some summer!!
Brew-tiful

Brew-tiful

I’d already enjoyed a Star Cluster IPA before/during the “tour”, and noticed the brew pub was still dolled up for the holidays as we walked up to the tasting.  No surprise, we went from Light to Dark in our beers.

Let's do this!

Let’s do this!

(In case you’re wondering, that’s a Hop Zilla original shirt, made by my buddy Robin for me for this year’s GABF. Be jealous.)

The beers we tried included:

  • Shine On (a saison/farmhouse style ale)
  • Loud and Thirsty (a dortmunder lager that I hated)
  • Caber Toss Wee Heavy (we all wore kilts when we tasted this scotch ale)
  • Voyager IPA (a delicious IPA that I was quite fond of tasting)
  • Honest Stout (Tasty, but nothing to write home about)
  • Liquid Inspiration Stout (mmm roasted malty and great)

The “guided tasting” got a little wacky by the end, as I noticed that many people stopped paying attention (maybe they were already drunk? I saw a few ladies throwing back Bloody Marys and mimosas pre-“tour”). Also, it was clear that the room was a little big for Brad to handle all at once, but his efforts were admirable.

Perhaps he should’ve sang to us?

ANYWHO, for $10, we enjoyed a little new knowledge about Goose Island, 6 beer tastings, and a lovely pint glass to take home.

And who doesn’t enjoy a little afternoon buzz?

Not us. We love that style of buzz.

Not us. We love that style of buzz.

We bundled back up to venture out into the cold once again. And, even though it’s been about four days since this tour…. I still think my bones are thawing.

What crazy ingredient would you put into your Farmer’s Market series beer??

Has anyone brewed with broccoli?